February 23, 2018 The Bible – Eureka Three Decades Later
One sonic style that took shape and eventually flourished during the flamboyant 1980s is known now as Sophistipop – best described as “slow, soft, and melodic music with New Wave sensibilities and Smooth Jazz undertones.” Some of the significant ’80s-forming bands much of whose music may fall under the genre include Fra Lippo Lippi (“Light and Shade”), Johnny Hates Jazz (“Turn Back the Clock”), Breathe (“Hands to Heaven”), PM (“Piece of Paradise”), and the once-adored but half-remembered The Bible.
Formed in 1985, in Cambridge, England, by the duo Boo Hewerdine (vocals, guitar) and Tony Shepherd (keyboards, drums), The Bible recorded their debut, Walking the Ghost Back Home, with the assistance of Clive Lawson on bass, Kevin Flanagan on saxophone, and Dave Larcombe of Roaring Boys on drums. Released in 1986, the album produced the minor hit singles “Graceland” and “Mahalia.”
By the time they started to work on their followup, The Bible grew into a revolving cast of members – Hewerdine, Shepherd, Flanagan, and Larcombe with new members and session players Neill MacColl (lead guitar), Calum MacColl (bass), Greg Harewood (bass), Danny Thompson (bass), John Huckridge (trumpet), and Martin Green (saxophone). Their collaborative sessions resulted in the band’s second full-length, Eureka.
Released in January 1988, Eureka, however, was not a commercial success. It peaked at only number 71 on the U.K. Albums Chart. Nevertheless, time has proven that chart performance does not really say a thing about the actual quality of the music that most albums contain. Frequently, releases just get sidetracked or are not given the chance to shine, because they often get overshadowed by the “new darlings in town.” Upon inspection, one will realize that there are gems in such ignored works just waiting to be mined. The Bible’s second and last proper album was one of such casualties.
Eureka opened with the refreshingly upbeat, sunshine-summoning, smile-pulling “Skywriting.” This was followed by one of the album’s finest moment – the lyrically hopeful but melodically melancholic “Honey Be Good,” which could transmit pulses of nostalgia to the heart of any ’80s New Wave aficionada. The vibes picked up pace again with the piano-adorned and guitar- jangly mid-tempo “Skeleton Crew,” joining the league of similarly styled songs such as “All I Need Is a Miracle” by Mike + the Mechanics, “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister, “That’s When I Think of You” by 1927, and “Bathed in the Afterglow” by 16 Tambourines.
The Bible then turned a bit jazzier and cozier with “November Brides,” while the ensuing acoustic-oriented “Cigarette Girls” was a further trek down the folky and rustic countryside. Hewerdine’s soft, velvety voice then swung gracefully with “White Feathers,” complemented by crisp jangles of guitars. A perfect mid-song highlight came next in the form of “Crystal Palace” – the album’s cheery carrier single. Another breezy track, “Wishing Game” returned the listener to the overall feel-good mood of the album.
Hewerdine and his classy combo then took the listener to a quiet, ambient corner of “Red Hollywood,” complete with a standup bass, jazzy guitars, and a horn section. “Tiny Lights” followed in the same loungy atmosphere then built up into a slightly syncopated rhythm. “Blue Shoes Stepping” then walked and marched proudly with its piano flourishes and head-swaying beat and other catchy melodies, culminating in a Light Jazz jam. Finally, The Bible gave Eureka a proper, smokin’ Swing/Jazz closer – “Up in Smoke.”
Eureka is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Listen to it again; and this time, fairly and with objectivity. Behold its beauty and true worth. Some of its tracks are among the finest ballads in the Sophistipop world. Give this half-forgotten gem the well-deserved appreciation that once eluded it. Rediscover the spark and sheen that time forgot and many harsh critics in the past had dismissed a lot.